Justice KM Joseph Suggests Preventive Detention To Curb Hate Speech, Lawyer Says It Will Be Draconian
During yesterday's hearing of pleas against hate speech before the Apex Court, Justice KM Joseph who was sharing the Bench with Justice BV Nagarathna suggested using preventive detentions to curb hate speech.
Justice Joseph orally suggested that preventive detention can be used against people who regularly indulge in hate speech.
During the hearing, the Bench asked for suggestions from the petitioner for measures to curb hate speech and the petitioner's counsel suggested having a nodal officer for each state who should initiate action in every case. The petitioner also suggested that once hate speech is identified, an order may be required to take it down from social media.
"I don't know whether laws relating to preventive detention contain reference to these offences as a ground for detention", Justice Joseph said.
Justice Joseph also said that "everything will fall into place" if preventive detention laws are used. "One way out is, if you have people who do it on a regular basis, irrespective of the religion they belong to, again we are emphasizing, irrespective of religion, irrespective of caste, community, language, whatever they belong to, nobody should be allowed to play with the rule of law. Once you have that situation, then everything will fall into place", Justice Joseph said.
Advocate Kaleeswaram Raj then submitted that he has a caveat about that suggestion. He spoke about a book titled 'Hate' with the subtitle, "why we should resist it with free speech, not censorship". "I am afraid, in the guise of this, there cannot be a preemptive kind of thing. When your lordships are referring to preventive detention, I am a bit scared because of this. ...In the guise of tackling hate speech, there cannot be further draconian laws", he submitted.
He said that the present issue is not one of a dearth of law but an issue of "misuse or disuse or selective use of law".
Justice Joseph also during the hearing yesterday that both the judges on the Bench are totally apolitical and that they don't care whether it is party A, party B or party C. "We only know one thing which is the constitution of India and the laws of the country", Justice Joseph said, before issuing notice to all states. The Bench also said that it won't be a party to politics. Justice Joseph also said that the Bench did not ask for action against any one community and that action has to be irrespective of religion. (read report)
During a previous hearing, while considering an intervention application by an NGO that sought to highlight instances of alleged hate speech and hate crimes against the Hindu community in general and against the Brahmins, Justice KM Joseph made certain remarks, which lead to a controversy. In a heated exchange between the Solicitor General and the Bench, the Solicitor General asked the Bench why it did not take suo motu cognizance of the video of the hate slogans by a child in a rally in Kerala by the now banned Popular Fron of India (PFI).
The Wikipedia page of Justice Joseph had to be locked due to multiple edits targeting him. Later, a Human Rights organisation had called for clarification by Justice Joseph about his controversial oral observations.